“The People Say 'We Did It Ourselves': Celebrating the Chancellorship of Bruce W. Bergland”

Retirement Reception for Chancellor Bruce Bergland and
IU Northwest First Lady Cynthia Owens-Bergland
Gary, Indiana
June 15, 2010

Introduction: "We Did It Ourselves"

Just prior to his installation as chancellor in 1999, Bruce Bergland paraphrased the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu to explain his own management style. Lao Tzu is said to have written that "the leader is best when people are hardly aware of his existence . . . and when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, the people say, 'We did it ourselves.'"1

Inherent in these words are the sense of community, integrity, and generosity of spirit that have been hallmarks of Bruce Bergland's eleven-year tenure as the 11th leader and the 5th chancellor of the IU Northwest campus. In fact, Bruce is the longest-serving chancellor this campus has ever had.

Bergland Career History

This achievement, and his lifetime involvement in higher education, were not initially part of Bruce's career plan. Early on, he planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become an engineer. That changed in college when he realized he liked working more with people than with things. I am sure every person here is happy that he changed his mind.

He received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and went on to earn his doctorate in counseling from Stanford University. He was 24 years old at the time, making him one of Stanford's youngest PhDs. His first professorship was at Northwestern University where he served as an assistant professor of education and psychology.

From there, he took up a series of academic and administrative positions at the University of Colorado at Denver; at the University of Hawaii—West Oahu campus; and finally at Trinity College of Vermont with responsibilities including strategic planning, academic affairs, day-to-day administration, and serving as special advisor to chancellors and presidents. That he served as both a professor and administrator at each institution suggests his great skill at balancing his administrative responsibilities with his dedication to teaching and research.

Shared Vision and Achievements at IU Northwest

When Bruce moved from Trinity to assume the chancellorship of the IU Northwest campus, the search committee's decision was unanimous. Kenneth Perrin, IU South Bend chancellor at the time and chair of the search committee, described Bruce as "an excellent choice," and over the past eleven years, Bruce has proven the truth of that description.2

From the very beginning, Bruce promised that people were not going to see what he called "Bergland's '10 steps'—or Bergland's mission." His leadership was never selfish and was never about Bruce. It was always about constructing a shared vision that has evolved and guided the campus over the years.3

It would take a great deal of time to offer all of Bruce's accomplishments as chancellor, but I would like to highlight a few that will help convey what a tremendous impact he has had on this campus, this university, and this community.

The Community

By Bruce's own description, the "on-going theme to which [he has] attended throughout [his] chancellorship is developing, maintaining, and enhancing the relationship between IU Northwest and the broader Northwest Indiana community, and very specifically, the community in Gary."4 This dedication to the community has been abundantly clear from the moment he took office.

In 2000, one year after Bruce arrived, Savannah Center was completed, and Bruce opened its walking track to the community for early morning exercise, a practice still in effect. The Glen Park Conversations were another early campus and community initiative during Bruce's tenure. This monthly forum invites community members and IU Northwest faculty and staff to discuss neighborhood and campus events. These conversations later became part of the Glen Park Weed and Seed Program, organized by IU Northwest staff, funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, and focused on restoring and revitalizing the neighborhood surrounding campus. Another significant community effort involved working with the City of Gary to create the University Park Master Plan for the Glen Park area, which has the potential to change the neighborhood dramatically.

In order to further enhance the connection between the campus and the community, Bruce established the Office of Special Events, which facilitates the community's use of campus facilities.

Each of these efforts has been aimed at strengthening the connection between the IU Northwest campus and the city of Gary. This is precisely what drove the decision to move the campus' commencement ceremony from Merrillville to the Genesis Center in downtown Gary. The larger venue allowed for thousands more people to attend and celebrate their friends' and loved ones' academic achievement.

The Campus

Just as Bruce has helped strengthen the campus/community connection, he has also maintained a strong focus on improving the campus in ways that create opportunities for students, faculty, staff, and community members alike. For instance, the Dunes Medical/Professional Building, a 124,000-square-foot facility, was completed in 2005 and houses state-of-the-art science laboratories, the Health Clinic, the Dental Clinic, the IU School of Medicine-Northwest, and much of the College of Health and Human Services. That college was established in 2007 and is also testimony to Bruce's dedication to IU Northwest students and the Region. It not only provides high quality interdisciplinary education to students, but it fulfills an urgent need for highly-skilled health professionals in the community. It is, in my opinion, maybe Bruce's greatest contribution to IU Northwest. In 2009, the School of Business and Economics, also located in the Dunes Building, reclaimed its Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business accreditation, making it the only business school in northwest Indiana to hold that accreditation.

And in the wake of the devastating flood of the Little Calumet River in 2008, Bruce's strong and steady leadership led the campus to resume operations quickly and efficiently. Since then, Bruce has been instrumental in securing legislative approval for a $33 million appropriation to replace Tamarack Hall, which was damaged by the flood. With every accomplishment, Bruce has been a passionate voice of honesty and integrity keeping the best interests of the entire university at the forefront even as he focuses on improving the IU Northwest campus and surrounding community. In his service to the university, he has served as regional campus representative to the IU Foundation Board and currently serves as a trusted and valued advisor on my cabinet, always willing to step back and consider issues in terms of their impact on Indiana University as a whole.

Additional Highlights

Everyone in this room knows that I could go on. I could mention the new entryway to campus at 33rd and Broadway, the "Little Redhawk Café" in the Library, and the Information Commons, which was dedicated just last fall.

I could mention the successful fundraising initiatives, the new Crisis Management Team, and the campus' new international exchange partners in Bilbao, Spain.

I could mention Bruce's deep involvement in the Region through the Northwest Indiana Quality of Life Council, South Shore Arts, the Urban League of Northwest Indiana, Lake Area United Way, and other organizations.

I could mention the magnificent Shadows and Echoes Sculpture Garden, which is such a beautiful centerpiece for this campus and symbolizes the many transformations that have taken place here during Bruce's tenure. In fact, that garden also represents the great contributions that Bruce's wife Cynthia Bergland has made here over the years. Working in collaboration with Professor of Fine Art Neil Goodman, Cynthia helped make the sculpture garden a reality, but she has also served the community in many other ways, including founding the Indiana Women's Institute for Learning and Leadership, serving on the IU Northwest Gala Committee, and donating her service and expertise to improving the campus. Cynthia, you have our deep gratitude for all that you have given to this community.

Recognition: Three Gifts

Tonight, it is my great pleasure to further recognize all that Bruce has done for the IU Northwest campus, this community, and the Region. On behalf of friends of the chancellor and members of the Chancellor's Society, I am pleased to present these first three recognitions.


The first is a sculpture that will be placed in Savannah Center this fall. Created by Neil Goodman, this sculpture will be a mobile composed of interlocking elements and representing the dynamism and energy of the Bergland administration as well as the partnerships and collaborations he helped to forge that link the university to the broader community.

Bruce W. Bergland Arts Scholarship

The second recognition is the Bruce W. Bergland Arts Scholarship. Created through a special fundraising effort of the Chancellor's Society, the scholarship recognizes Bruce's deep commitment to the arts on the IU Northwest campus and will be awarded to students in the fine and performing arts beginning in Spring of 2011.

Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium

The third recognition was approved just last Friday at the Board of Trustees meeting. It is my pleasure to announce that the Savannah Center auditorium just down the hall will henceforth be known as the Bruce W. Bergland Auditorium. This auditorium honors the legacy of a campus leader deeply committed to collaboration, partnership, and community, and one whose humility, selflessness, and integrity have guided his actions throughout his tenure.

Distinguished Hoosier Award

Bruce, would you join me at the podium for the final three presentations?

It is my honor to present the next award on behalf of the state of Indiana. The Distinguished Hoosier Award is one of the highest honors given by the state of Indiana to its citizens. It is given at the discretion of the governor to Hoosiers who have brought honor to the state through their character and accomplishments. This award was made possible by Representative Vernon Smith and was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels. Please, help me congratulate Bruce on this great honor.

Sagamore Of The Wabash Award

Now, I have another award that I am privileged to present on behalf of the state of Indiana. Like the Distinguished Hoosier Award, the Sagamore of the Wabash Award is one of the highest honors the governor of Indiana can bestow, but the Sagamore is not reserved for citizens of Indiana and is a personal tribute usually given to those who have rendered a distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

Bruce, you have rendered remarkable service to the entire state of Indiana through your contributions to Indiana University, the IU Northwest campus, and to the Region. In honor of that service, Governor Mitch Daniels has added your name to the distinguished roster of Sagamore of the Wabash award recipients.


The President's Medal

For my final presentation, I ask that Cynthia join Bruce and me at the podium.

In recognition of all that both of you have done for Indiana University, for the IU Northwest campus, and for this community, it is my great pleasure to present both of you with the highest honor an Indiana University president can bestow: the President's Medal for Excellence.

This medal itself is a reproduction in silver of the symbolic jewel of office worn by Indiana University's president at ceremonial occasions. The precious stones represent the university's cultivation of reading, writing, and arithmetic, as well as the arts, sciences, and humanities.

Criteria for recipients of this honor include distinction in public service, service to Indiana University, achievement in a profession, and/or extraordinary merit and achievement in the arts, humanities, sciences, education, and industry.

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the trustees of Indiana University, in gratitude for your extraordinary service, dedication, and leadership over many years, I am privileged and honored to present both of you with the President's Medal for Excellence.

Bruce and Cynthia, you have had a magnificent tenure here at IU Northwest, and for that the whole campus, university, and community give you its deepest and most grateful thanks.

Source Notes

  1. "Chancellor Bruce Bergland Looks to the Future." Indiana University Website.
  2. Hines, DeAnna. "Bruce Bergland to be IU Northwest Chancellor." Indiana University Website.
  3. "Chancellor Bruce Bergland Looks to the Future." Indiana University Website.
  4. Bergland, Bruce. "Draft Document—January 26, 2010: Chancellorship—1999-2010." Office of the Chancellor Indiana University Northwest.